The 6 Best Family-Friendly Texas State Parks

School’s out, and summer’s here.

That means it’s time to load the family in the RV and have some fun together.

There is no shortage of options for family entertainment in Texas, especially outdoor entertainment in state parks.

Goose Island State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Goose Island State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are 95 of them to choose from, though, so where do you start? Here’s a helpful guide of six state park properties that will satisfy the entire family’s summer wish list.

Goose Island State Park

Lapping water and Gulf breezes: We must be on the Gulf! Goose Island offers camping, fishing, and birding along St. Charles and Aransas bays, less than an hour north of Corpus Christi. Hike, geocache, go boating, and observe and take photos of wildlife, especially birds. Swimming is not recommended as the shoreline has concrete bulkheads, oyster shells, mud flats, and marsh grass.

Fish from the shore, boat, or the 1,620-foot long fishing pier. Choose from 44 camping sites by the bay or 57 sites nestled under oak trees, all with water and electricity.

Located at 202 S. Palmetto St., Rockport

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

Climb the ancient dome for amazing Hill Country views.The massive pink granite dome rising above Central Texas has drawn people for thousands of years. But there’s more at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area than just the dome. The scenery, rock formations, and legends are magical, too! Explore nearly 11 miles of hiking trails.

Located at 16710 Ranch Rd. 965, Fredericksburg

Note: The park experiences a high volume of visitors on weekends; closures are guaranteed with a line often forming as early as 8 a.m., park closure can happen as early as 9 a.m.

Guadalupe River State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Guadalupe River State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Guadalupe River State Park

Many families come here to swim, but the park is more than a great swimming hole. Beautiful scenery and colorful history await, less than an hour north of San Antonio.

With four miles of river frontage, the Guadalupe River takes center stage at the park. Step away from the river to find the more peaceful areas. On the river, you can swim, fish, tube, and canoe. While on land, you can camp, hike, ride mountain bikes, picnic, geocache, and bird watch.

Explore 13 miles of hike and bike trails. Trails range from the 2.86-mile Painted Bunting Trail to the .26-mile Barred Owl Trail, which leads you to a scenic overlook of the river.

Located at 3350 Park Road 31, Spring Branch

Pair of green jays at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pair of green jays at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park

About four hours south of San Antonio, this is one of the world’s premier bird watching spots, featuring a list of more than 350 bird species that have been seen inside the park. Families are regularly seen, as well, walking around with binoculars in tow and their eyes on the skies and the trees.

If you’re not feeling a nature walk, rent bicycles for the family at the visitor center and go on a ride from blind to blind along the park roads.

Located at 2800 S. Bentsen Palm Drive, Mission

Monahans Sandhills State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Monahans Sandhills State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Monahans Sandhills State Park

If the family would rather go surfing, just head to the desert of West Texas. Now, I realize that makes absolutely no sense, but we’re talking about sand dune surfing at Monahans Sandhills State Park about 30 minutes southwest of Odessa.

Texas Parks and Wildlife often refers to Monahans Sandhills as a Texas-size sandbox, where active dunes sometimes reach up to 70 feet tall and change every day with the winds. You can rent toboggans or disks for a few dollars at the visitor center to spend the morning or afternoon surfing down the dunes.

Located at 2500 E. Interstate 20 Exit 86, Monahans

McKinney Falls State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

McKinney Falls State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

McKinney Falls State Park

Listen to Onion Creek flowing over limestone ledges and splashing into pools. Follow trails winding through the Hill Country woods. Explore the remains of an early Texas homestead and a very old rock shelter. All of this lies within Austin’s city limits at McKinney Falls State Park.  What are you waiting for?

Hike or bike nearly nine miles of trails. The 2.8-mile Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail has a hard surface, good for strollers and road bikes.

Located at 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway, Austin

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

No matter how far we may wander, Texas lingers with us, coloring our perceptions of the world.

—Elmer Kelto

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